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[Diplomatic circuit] Britain eyes cooperation with Seoul on AI startups

Dec. 17, 2019 - 13:54 By Kim Bo-gyung
The United Kingdom, one of the countries leading the world in artificial intelligence, is seeking to step up cooperation with industry leader South Korea for advancements in AI, officials said.

“Whatever the outcome of the (UK) election, we can be confident that there will continue to be a powerful story to tell about AI in the UK,” British Ambassador to Korea Simon Smith said in his opening remarks, delivered in Korean at AI UK Conference 2019 at Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza on Dec. 12.


“To make the most of new digital technologies, we need to work together and build common ground. It is more important than ever that we work with like-minded companies, organizations and countries, to make sure new technologies develop in a way that reflects our shared values.”

According to the British Embassy, investment in AI in the UK totaled 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) last year, surpassing the combined figures for Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

On the back of full government support, AI is expected to add 630 billion pounds to Britain’s economy by 2035, a UK government report found.

Mike Short, chief scientific adviser at the UK’s Department for International Trade, said at the conference that he hopes to see more AI-related collaboration between Seoul, a leader in 5G networks, and Britain.

Short gave a keynote speech introducing AI in the UK, saying the country has a head start in the field with more than 1,000 AI startups and SMEs such as Deep Mind, Swift Key, VocallQ and Magic Pony.

“AI is impacting all sectors, leading to new business opportunities,” Short said, emphasizing health care startups as a promising sector for AI.

The incorporation of AI into all aspects of society is giving rise to new industries, revolutionizing existing ones and making others obsolete.

For example, demand for advisers in the finance industry is expected drop further due to AI, which completes the task more quickly and accurately at a lower cost. According to the MIT Technology Review, Goldman Sachs has reduced the number of advisers from 600 traders to two, ultimately letting go of 99 percent of its traders in 2017.

Offering an optimistic outlook, Ryu Woong-hwan, head of SK Telecom’s SV Innovation Center, said AI would help communities realize greater social value. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (